Emphasis on coal moves Japan in wrong direction

By BLOOMBERG

TOKYO • Japan’s support for coal power is pushing against global trends and ignores the nation’s advantages in clean-energy technology, according to a report released yesterday.

The country is unique among Group of Seven members for its plans to add domestic coal-generation capacity and for providing assistance for similar projects in South-East Asia, Influence-Map, a London based non-profit, said in the report. That’s “counter to the global coal phase-out trend”, according to the group.

While Japan surrendered its lead in solar-panel technology in the mid-2000s, it still retains research and manufacturing strengths in lithium-ion storage, components and key materials in renewables markets, according to the report. Success in those fields “will likely depend on it pivoting away from its coal-based power generation plans with far more focus on solar and wind”, InfluenceMap said.

Japan increased its reliance on fossil fuels after the 2011 Fukushima earthquake, which forced shutdowns of nuclear facilities nationwide. Coal, which accounted for a quarter of Japan’s electricity supply before the disaster, is expected to increase to 38% by 2030, according to estimates by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The government’s forecast is 26%.

About half of the top 100 Japanese companies have business models that suggest a preference for renewable electricity, both at home and abroad, compared to coal, the report said.